"Hawke?" Isabela peeked around the corner of the hallway. "Where are you?"
"I'm in the kitchen. Just follow the sound of my voice," came the answer. Isabela strode down the hallway in the voice's direction. She noted the portraits of people she recognized, and some she didn't. Carver, Bethany, Leandra, Malcolm, Gamlen... even one of the Mabari affectionately nicknamed "Barkspawn". Something was different than usual. After all the time she had spent at the estate, Isabela had gained a sense of familiarity with it. There was a special aroma in the air tickling her nose. The smell of... cinnamon?
"What was it you wanted to speak to me about?"
"Come into the kitchen, Isabela. Just a little farther."
Isabela rounded the corner and stepped into the large kitchen. Hawke closed the large oven door, wiped her hands on what appeared to be an apron, and turned to face the Rivaini woman. "I wanted to talk to you about... something important."
Isabela strode forward, exaggerating her movements as she positioned herself nearer to her target. She lightly ran a finger across the counter top as she moved, drawing a line through the dusting of flour that had accumulated over the stonework. She smirked and raised an eyebrow. "Are you... cooking?"
"Would it surprise you that much if I was?" came Hawke's happy reply.
Isabela took a moment to run her eyes up and down the woman before her. The destroyer of darkspawn, the mangler of marauders, the bruiser of brigands, and savior of the citizenry was wearing a frilly pink apron spattered with stains and flour, holding a wooden spoon and lightly licking the end of it while concentrating on the flavor. Isabela's eyes lingered on the sight of Hawke's pink tongue for a moment, and she laughed.
"I never imagined that the mighty Champion of Kirkwall could be so... domestic. Varric would have a field day if he knew."
"It helps me to relax! After so much destruction, sometimes it feels good to be able to create something." Hawke replied. Isabela smiled and leaned back against the stone countertop.
"So what was so important that you needed to send for me? "
Hawke reached down into a basket beside her and retrieved a small pastry. It was a cupcake, lightly frosted with some sort of pink buttercream confection. She held it up to Isabela's lips. "Taste this." she said.
Isabela locked her eyes onto Hawke's and, with a mischievous smile, she licked slowly around the sweet frosting. Savoring the flavor, she made a show of it. First she drew her tongue in a light circle around the top, then she slowly sank her teeth into the soft dessert, never breaking eye contact. She finally licked her lips and slowly chewed and swallowed, enjoying both the taste of the sweet cake and the feeling of Hawke's bright eyes on her face. "It's delicious," she smiled when finished. Hawke nodded.
"I wanted to talk to you about... what happened yesterday. After the battle with Nuncio and his men."
Isabela stiffened. Hawke was giving her that serious look. She hadn't seen it since that night, a week ago. That night, when Isabela had felt nervous for the first time in what seemed like ages. That night, when she had laid her heart on the line. That night, when she had said "Just tell me, Hawke, if I have a chance with you."
"Promise you won't go and break my heart?" Hawke's answer at the time had been so tentative... it made her seem as vulnerable as Isabela was feeling.
"I won't if you don't give me a reason to". The following kiss had shaken both of them to their cores.
Isabela shook herself mentally, turning aside the excess feelings associated with the memories.
"What about yesterday? Is this about Zevran?"
Hawke looked at her, and the smile had left her face. Isabela could feel the icy claws of unease in her belly. Things had been feeling so wonderful just a moment ago, but in the blink of an eye she had gone from jubilance to apprehension.
"Isabela, I'd like to think that I know you."
"Of course, you goose. We've been 'knowing' each other rather regularly for quite some time now." She tried to inject a bit of humor. Anything to keep that serious look from boring into her.
"At first I was confused. Perhaps even a little shocked. But then I realized something." Hawke reached down into her basket and drew forth a second frosted pink cupcake. She looked at it for a moment. "You're used to having... snacks whenever you like. They're just snacks to you. A craving comes quickly, and it's easy to satisfy. You can get them just about anywhere, and they don't require any sort of investment."
Isabela glanced at the cupcake, then back at Hawke. Hawke was still focused on the cupcake she was holding. "Yes, I like... snacks. Good ones, especially." Isabela began.
"I understand that you care for me a great deal. And I do care for you a great deal as well." Hawke took a small lick from the frosting of her cupcake.
Isabela raised an eyebrow.
"After I came home yesterday, I realized that you were simply offering to share your snack with me." Hawke gave her a warm smile. Isabela felt the sense of relief washing over her like a wave across the deck of her ship.
"It wasn't just sharing, you know. You know I adore your... cooking. I just wanted you to sample a tasty delicacy that's rather difficult to come by." Isabela grinned. Hawke nodded at her, then took another lick from her cupcake.
"If I offered to share a snack and was turned down, I'd have no compunctions about eating that snack myself." Hawke set her cupcake down on the gray stone countertop. She turned to face Isabela.
"And when I asked you to save your... appetite, you did so at my behest."
"Yes... I did." Isabela's reply came, low and throaty. "And I'm still hungry."
"Good. We can eat in a moment," said Hawke, setting down the cupcake. She leveled her gaze at the Rivaini woman's amber eyes.
Isabela took the opportunity to mount the offensive. She closed her eyes and tried to sound nonchalant. "I can't tell you when the mood strikes, you know. Sometimes I want something rich and decadent. Other times, it's whatever is convenient. Just to take the edge off. " She leaned back, stealing a glance at Hawke, who nodded at her.
"I wanted to tell you this face to face, Isabela. I know you may have a craving for a variety of snacks from time to time, and I understand. I can't stop you from ruining your appetite. However, I need you to understand something very, very important." She leaned in close.
"Oh? And what would that be?" Isabela couldn't fight back her smile. Hawke reached down and took both of Isabela's hands in hers, slowly intertwining their fingers.
"I..." Hawke grinned, "... am an amazing chef."
Bodahn returned to the Hawke estate to the sound of giggles coming from the kitchen. He cocked his ear, confused for a moment, and listened.
"... but what if I have a craving for something salty?"
"Oh, I'm sure I can whip something up that will satisfy that hunger."
"It had better! I'm suddenly feeling ravenous."
Bodahn nodded when he recognized the second voice. He turned and spotted Sandal, who had just entered the room from the library. "Ah, there you are, my boy. It seems messere Isabela shall be joining us for supper tonight. I do hope messere Hawke will be making her delicious pot roast."
"Enchantment!" came the happy reply.
Author's Note: I had been somewhat thrown by what happened when Hawke and Isabela had effectively committed to loving each other, immediately followed by Zevran's appearance stirring up Isabela's request for a bit of physical fun. I thought about Hawke's feelings on the matter, and about Isabela's viewpoint. This particular incident also came up repeatedly in the forum talk, when I came up with a rather unusual euphemism. This story grew from that.